Sunday, 15 November 2009


Entering many British libraries, the visitor is confronted by the following notices;
"No Smoking"
"No dogs"
"No phones"
"Turn off phone"
"Please do not eat or drink in the library"
".............. libraries (or council) accept no responsibility for loss or damage of personal property"
"No public toilets"

This does not seem very welcoming in my opinion. However lovely the people who work there are, I still don't feel welcome in a British library.
If you want to use the computers, you have to sign a long list of don'ts also.

Down the road at Asda supermarket car park I notice a refreshing change of attitude;
"Although we take every care to protect your car and belongings we regret that we cannot take responsibility for them."

Although, when distilled, both disclaimer notices give the same information they give two different messages.

Asda is part of the Walmart group of America. I don't particularly like shopping at Asda partly because of the music they play but I've been impressed with their customer service.

The libraries that I've visited in the USA (3 of them regularly) have a very different atmosphere than the British libraries I've been to (too many to count).
Two of the libraries on the USA, and several in the UK, have been new buildings.

I'm sure you can guess that I prefer the US ones.

I was very surprised, though that the well endowed library in Garner NC, doesn't have the book "What Katy Did" by Susan Coolidge on it's catalogue. Funny that England has this American classic children's book readily available in libraries and book shops. Yes, it is old fashioned but it has a wonderful message that (seemingly justified) self absorbment and self pity leads to unhappiness whereas selflessness leads to happiness.

I haven't noticed that British libraries offer the facility of WiFi with plugs to power laptops. The 3 US libraries I've visited have this very useful facility.

It is also normal for children to be tutored in the US libraries, within the children's section. This offers a neutral and safe place for both parties, with the advantage of resources to hand.